Sunday, 25 May 2008

Law & Order & 19th Century Yobs - NYC Days 7 & 8

First, the yobs. 19th Century toffs who scratched their names into ancient relics in Egypt. I say toffs because it was only the very rich who could afford to travel back then. And naturally, they thought they owned the world and could go around plundering as they wished. (I have a great picture of an example of such graffiti on my phone, but haven't the capacity to get it onto here unfortunately! - 'Patterson 1821' etched onto a block excavated from the pyramids in Ancient Egypt- he might as well have written 'I woz ere' )

The Met is great, beautiful building. I don't know anything about architecture butI loved it. The stuff on exhibition is obviously great, and interesting and all that, but I wasn't really in the mood to really ponder it much. And having been to the Louvre in Paris, the British Museum, museums in other parts of Europe...I'm at the stage where I can't just look at things and say 'oh that's pretty, isn't it amazing that it's so well preserved?'. I need to actually read some stuff before I go to look at things. So I plan to buy some books and then go back several times to the Met, spending days in there soaking it all up.
Yesterday though, I mostly wandered around just appreciating things on an aesthetic level. A few things stuck in my mind, the pillars and recesses of the building, the beautiful marble floors, stairs and walls, some of the really large exhibits like the Chinese garden and a big re-built Egyptian...actually not sure what it was! In the chinese area, there was this gorgeous wardrobe, dark wood, huge hinges, doors that looked like they weighed a tonne. It looked modern, but was from the Ming dynasty (C16th). Amazing, I wish I had ceilings high enough (and a bank balance to match) to accommodate something like that.

Walked up and down Park Avenue, 5th Avenue, Madison Avenue etc. It would be so amazing to live there, but there are downsides. For example the 'corner shop' (ok, restaurant) served a $20 open sandwich. Which really means half a sandwich. Though I suppose if you like on Madison Avenue you wouldn't baulk at spending $20 on half a sandwich.

And I went back to the Union Street Market where we sampled organic jams, ciders, and the yummiest brownie I've had for a long time. Some really nice fresh produce and stuff on offer, all local etc.

Friday afternoon's lecture was Criminal Procedure: warrants, double jeopardy, trial rights etc. The lingo was (for me) reminiscent of all those American lawyer programmes- Law & Order etc. Some interesting aspects - like how even if a warrant is deficient in scope or validity (in the context of the 4th Amendment right against unlawful search and seizure) it can be 'remedied' by the Good faith of the executing police officer. Riiiight, cos that's a sufficient protection! In my head I kept saying, but PACE allows for this and this...etc etc.

The lecturer told a funny story (to illustrate the point that a magistrate approving a search warrant needs to be free from bias, otherwise the warrant is invalid) about a magistrate in Georgia (I think - might have been Virginia). The State decided that it would be a good idea to pay her no base salary, but then pay $25 for each warrant issue. Lo and behold this particular magistrate ended up having a significantly higher than normal percentage of warrants issues (when considered against the number sought, and issuing percentages of other magistrates in the area).

However, in some instances US Law seems to offer better protections that UK Law. For instance, the 5th Amendment (right to silence so as not to incriminate yourself) attaches to any proceeding, civil, criminal or regulatory in nature. And a prosecutor or jury is not allowed to draw adverse inferences from a defendant's decision to 'plead the 5th', which I believe is no longer the case in the UK. (Of course whether in fact jurors do actually draw adverse inferences is an entirely separate issue- but the fact that judges cannot direct them to do this is important.)

Finally, it's a gorgeous sunny, memorial day weekend - which means no more classes 'til Tuesday, woo!


Lady WR said...

Very much enjoying reading about your time in NY. I'm quite new to your blog, so forgive me if my questions are already dealt with elsewhere, but..
Why are you doing the Bar exams over there?
Will you practise over there?
Will you do the BVC here as well?
Good luck with it all

Anonymous said...

Mel, you Culture Vulture you!! I loved the Met too, but didnt have much time to spend there, so I am totally green with envy when you say you'll be buying some books and go back to spend days there in order to soak it all up!! Are you going to do the Guggenheim too?! (another utterly amazing space)
Park Ave's always going to be a rip off unless you happen to be a Hedge Fund Manager worth Billions in which case you wont care if a sandwich costs a small fortune, but smell the wonga eh?!
Glad to see you and Boy are of the same lawyerly mind - will you be setting up in business when you both pass the exams?!?
Was your lecturer there in person on Friday or was he, too a recording?! Either way it sounds absolutely fascinating to visit the law in a comparative fashion picking out the best and worst bits of both; perhaps when you come home you'll have he answers for the ills of everything!! ;)

Android said...

That's interesting about the 5th Amendment! Does it apply in any circumstances?

Mel said...

Hi Lady

Welcome, no worries- it's a fairly new blog.
I'm doing the Bar exams here some point about a year ago I said why not? No real concrete reason. I like to keep my options open!
I doubt very much I'll practice here, even if in theory I would be qualified, no-one would really hire me without an American law degree or masters.
I am planning on doing the BVC in London from September, at ICSL actually.

Thanks for the wishes of good luck!

Mel said...

The Guggenheim (the gug?!) is next on the list! I likes my museums, even if I know nowt about them. And I like museums that tell you a little bit about the stuff you're looking at, as American (and english) museums seem to- not like those snooty French where the most you get is year and title.

Boy pointed out an item in the Met- a sumerian land deed- inscriptions on a piece of rock. We were both fascinated, and looked at it in depth. And then realised that only a very lame pair of lawyers would find interest in such an object.

Friday's was indeed a recording- as they all will be. The live lectures happened about a week ago in a different location, and I'm at a video location. Bot sure why I went for this location, but I did. To be honest it's not that different (video/live). And you don't have to stifle your yawns when dealing with a vid!

Mel said...

Hey 'droid.

Yes and no. I think it is applicable to all situations, but once you've waived it you can't get it back.

So for instance, if you respond to questions on examination in chief, you can't plead the 5th on cross. And if you are questioned by the SEC (like the FSA) on a civil matter, and the same questions then arise in criminal proceedings you can't then claim the 5th. You have to plead it at the earliest possibly opportunity otherwise you've lost it.
And because it protects the right not to incriminate yourself, if the statute of limitations has run out on whatever you would be incriminating yourself of (e.g. fraud back in the 1940's) then you can't claim the 5th. It isn't a a right to silence, exactly, it's just that right not to incriminate yourself.

I'm sure there's lots of other exceptions, fairly common sense (sort of estoppel based I guess?) in the same vein. But I thought that point about no adverse inferences was interesting :)

Android said...

Hey Mel,

How's NY Law going? :)

Anonymous said...

Where are are Ya Mel? I do hope NY has not swallowed you up whole!! Whats the skinny?!?!

Mel said...

Hey 'droid, Minxy!

Apologies, I have not quite been swallowed up - but I may well be melting in this godforsaken heat!

New posts coming shortly!!


Anonymous said...

Hi Mel,

Please dont melt in the heat - you will slip through the gratings in the pavement and we shall never hear from you again !!( which, of course, simply cannot be allowed!!)

I'll bet its totally SWELTERING over there right now; I know that at this time of year it was certainly too hot for me! Thank GAWD for Air Con!!!